Turning Pointe

Pointe 1900 builds gateway to Loop, homeownership

For countless South Siders, the corner of State Street and Archer Avenue has always marked the point where downtown begins. It’s there that the Archer Express ends its long trip through the Southwest Side and makes a soft turn onto State Street, skyscrapers suddenly close enough to touch, indicating that passengers have entered another world.

For a generation, that landmark corner, the southern gateway to the Loop, was marked by Warshawsky Auto Parts, a vast assemblage of car hulks stacked behind a shabby fence. The business once fit in well with the South Loop’s gritty urban edge, its warehouses, flophouses and street evangelism.

But throughout the ’80s and ’90s, residential development grew steadily in the South Loop. New lofts, townhouses, single-family homes and more recently, highrise and mid-rise condos have replaced the vacant lots, storage buildings and old railroad property. A new neighborhood was born and with no small thanks to a resident named Daley, the city spent lavishly on new infrastructure, landscaping and flowered boulevards.

The South Loop has become the city’s fastest growing neighborhood, and no development better makes that point than the new 101-unit condo building by Dynaprop Development Corp. “Pointe 1900,” 1900 S. State, is being built on the key corner where Warshawsky Auto once stood, a roughly triangular site bordered by State, Archer, Cullerton and Dearborn.

Not only will Pointe 1900 mark the entrance to downtown and the residential boom in the South Loop, it also signals the latest phase in neighborhood growth – commercial development. The project will include 38,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, according to Rick Turner, president of Dynaprop.

“We noticed the dearth of retail space down here,” Turner says. “I’d meet someone down in the South Loop and want to get coffee and there was no place there unless we went all the way up to Roosevelt Road. A lot of people have moved in around us, but there’s no retail there. We’re trying to take advantage of that.”

Turner says Dynaprop has signed two leases on the commercial space, one with a sandwich shop and another with a cellular phone dealer. A third is being finalized with a dry cleaner. There also is reportedly a letter of intent from a certain well known gourmet coffee chain, although Turner wouldn’t comment.

Another development seven blocks to the north, State Place, is adding another 70,000 square feet of retail to the street, and a new Jewel-Osco and a Starbucks at Roosevelt and Wabash are further signs of commercial growth in the South Loop. Neighboring Chinatown, which has pushed into Bridgeport, also has seen a building boom in recent years.

Buyers at Pointe 1900, www.pointe1900.com, won’t have to wait, as earlier South Loop buyers did, for stores and services to catch up with residential growth. But they still can take advantage of the lower prices the neighborhood once was known for. While projects farther north have gotten pricey, Dynaprop consciously positioned its product as the gateway to homeownership as well as to the Loop.

“Back in February, about 70 percent of our units were priced under $200,000, and around 50 percent still are,” Turner says. “We’ve got probably the lowest prices for first-time buyers of the major downtown areas.”

The condos have one to three bedrooms with one to three baths and 723 to 1,577 square feet. Prices start in the $150s and range up to the $410s.

“It’s a good product for first-time buyers who want to buy new construction in a great South Loop location,” says Jody Williams, marketing director for Jameson Realty Group, exclusive sales agent for the development.

Prices starting in the $150s are hard to beat for a downtown condo, but Turner says, he hasn’t lowered standards to price competitively. The building is masonry with a traditional façade of brown brick and stone detailing. Features include private terraces or balconies, a fitness center, indoor heated parking, ceiling heights of around 10 to 12 feet, oak floors in living areas, GE appliances and Moen fixtures.

“The real trick in development is offering as many features as you can for the most reasonable price,” Turner says. “We figured people would be willing to pay for the higher ceilings, for example. One of our challenges was to keep the prices low but keep the exterior all brick and stone, and we’ve been able to do that. A lot of these new highrises are all concrete and glass, which is less traditional and cheaper to build.”

The development lays out with the building forming a horseshoe around the site’s perimeter and opening into a courtyard on the south. Residents will access the indoor garage here, from Cullerton, and surface level parking will be provided inside the courtyard for customers of the ground-floor shops.

A sales center is open on site and a model for Pointe 1900 is located in a previous Dynaprop project, at 1910 S. Michigan. Turner expects construction to start in August, with first occupancy in fall of 2003.
By then, thousands more residents and more retail will have been added to the expanding South Loop.

“It’s almost as if there’s a border outline now and there will be infill (development) from here on out,” Turner says. “That’s where the value is: being in the South Loop but not in one of the pricier developments.”

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